While Apple is always a news staple, it seems like they have been in the news even more than usual lately. While some of the news has been actual “news” (as in factual), some has been rumors. I don’t typically feed the rumor mill but some the rumors lately have been a little intriguing and not of the usual genre (such as the perpetually-rumored Apple television). For being the shortest month, February seemed to have a virtual plethora of Apple news. Here’s a summary of some of more interesting items:
New MacBook Air
It was rumored that new MacBook Airs would appear on February 24th. While hardly alone in their conjecture, Apple Insider noted that current MacBook Air configurations were being discounted by $100 or more at several Apple Authorized Retailers. Since my son was in the market for a new MacBook Air, I was hoping that that this would come to fruition but it did not. The 24th came with no new MacBook Airs. February 24th is a pretty common date to be rumored for new Apple products since it was Steve Jobs’ birthday.
Apple Store Redesign
According to The New Yorker, Apple is working on a redesign of their retail stores to showcase their newest product, Apple Watch. The launch date is expected to be in the April timeframe. Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Design is reportedly working with Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail, on the endeavor. Ms. Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, was brought on board in 2013. To me, Apple Stores are the one store that I go to that is centered around the customer’s experience. Please say a redesign isn’t so, Apple.
Apple Watch News
Steve Wozniak likes Apple Watch, calling its display “like a little piece of art.” In an interview with the BBC, Woz said: “Everybody who owns Apple products will buy it and that means millions of people will buy this watch right from the start and that helps get a critical mass going.” While Mr. Wozniak is a cofounder of Apple, he doesn’t live solely in the iOS world and is known to use several Android devices. Still, “everybody”? While Apple Watch may be a big hit, I’m not buying in to the “everybody” thing.
While the MacBook Air launch event didn’t happen, Apple Watch is expected to be launched at an Apple event on March 9th, with sales starting in April.
Apple Hires Zane Lowe
The Guardian reported that BBC Radio One DJ Zane Lowe is moving to Apple. Mr. Lowe is perhaps the UK’s most influential radio DJ. While it is not known what capacity Mr. Lowe will serve at Apple, bringing him on board speaks loudly to Apple’s commitment to Beats Music and iTunes Radio. Bringing brand-name personalities on board could give Apple a much needed boost in the music streaming world.
Former Apple CEO Says There’s No Catching Apple
John Sculley told C|Net that, no matter how much it spends, Samsung can’t compete with Apple when it comes to marketing. According to Mr. Sculley, “Everybody talks about Apple. Nobody talks about Samsung, or Microsoft, for that matter.” Although Samsung seems to be everywhere, “it still can’t beat Apple’s ads when it comes to making consumers feel they have to have a product.” Mr. Sculley is best known as the man to force Steve Jobs out of Apple.
Apple Goes Solar (Again)
According to The New York Times, Apple is investing $850 million in a massive solar farm to power its California operations, including its new Cupertino campus, stores and a data center in Fremont, according to reports from Breaking Energy and the New York Times. The expected completion date is late 2016. Solar power currently powers facilities in Texas as well as other facilities in California. In their latest effort to use solar power, Apple is taking some heat (pun intended) from environmental groups since the California Flats solar farm is home to several species of endangered or threatened wildlife.
iOS 8.3 to Get Public Beta Program
By pretty much all accounts, Apple’s launch of iOS 8.0 was problematic. Last year, Apple offered a public beta program for OS X Yosemite, the Mac operating system. By pretty much all accounts, the launch of Yosemite went quite smoothly. While still not perfect, the rollout of Yosemite experienced fewer issues than the rollout of iOS 8.0. So, as reported by 9to5Mac, Apple is launching its first iOS public beta program with iOS 8.3 later this month as well as for iOS 9.0 this summer. This can only help to improve the stability and quality of the release. iOS 8.0 and subsequent releases have had enough issues that it may be prudent for Apple to work on stabilizing iOS 9.0 and less about bells and whistles.
App Store is OK with Marijuana
Last November, Apple pulled MassRoots, a social app for marijuana users, for the App Store. Now, it has reconsidered and will allow marijuana apps as long as they are restricted to those states where marijuana is legal. In the United States, medicinal marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, four states have legalized marijuana for adults. A search in the App Store shows that MassRoots has lots of company or is that competition?
Apple Expands Two-Step Authentication
After rolling out two-step authentication to iTunes and iCloud users in 2013, Apple is now providing the same increased security to iMessage and FaceTime. With two-step authentication, if a user logs out of their account and attempts to log in again, a security code will be needed to confirm their identity. This is also true if they attempt to login on a different device.
Apple’s Emojis Will Be More Diverse
With iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3, Apple will be providing a more diverse set of emojis. There will be sixty emoji each available with five different skin tones. While this is a very good thing, there is still one group of people with no emoji – redheads. To that end, there is a petition on Change.org, imploring Apple to add red-haired emojis. It currently has 2,500 signatures. As the parent of redhead, I say “Gingers, unite!”
The Apple Car
Last, but certainly not least, is a rumor that Apple is working on an electric car. Last year, Tesla’s Elon Musk made all of Tesla’s patents available to spur competition in the electric car market. Well, maybe Mr. Musk got what he wanted. Apple is rumored to have hired employees from the auto industry to work on the “Apple Car”. There has been some speculation that the car will be self-driving minivan. It is thought that about 200 employees are working on “Project Titan” which could potentially grow to 1,000. Finally, something to endlessly speculate about besides the Apple television.
Judy is a computer veteran with 30 years of experience. She has owned everything from a TRS-80, Apple IIe and various Windows-based PCs. She is currently living in her Apple ecosystem at home consisting of an iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook, Apple TV, iPod nano and two Time Capsules. She is a fan of all things mobile since she got her first Palm Pilot in 1999. Check out her iPad app, Number Wizard, in the App Store. Follow her on Twitter @junovotech or at Junovo.com.